Improved electron transfer and plasmonic effect in dye-sensitized solar cells with bi-functional Nb-doped TiO2/Ag ternary nanostructures†
TiO2 nanoparticles are surface-modified via atom transfer radical polymerization (ATRP) with a hydrophilic poly(oxyethylene)methacrylate (POEM), which can coordinate to the Ag precursor, i.e. silver trifluoromethanesulfonate (AgCF3SO3). Following the reduction of Ag ions, a Nb2O5 doping process and calcination at 450 °C, bi-functional Nb-doped TiO2/Ag ternary nanostructures are generated. The resulting nanostructures are characterized by energy-filtering transmission electron microscopy (EF-TEM), X-ray diffraction (XRD), X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), and UV-visible spectroscopy. The dye-sensitized solar cell (DSSC) based on the Nb-doped TiO2/Ag nanostructure photoanode with a polymerized ionic liquid (PIL) as the solid polymer electrolyte shows an overall energy conversion efficiency (η) of 6.9%, which is much higher than those of neat TiO2 (4.7%) and Nb-doped TiO2 (5.4%). The enhancement of η is mostly due to the increase of current density, attributed to the improved electron transfer properties including electron injection, collection, and plasmonic effects without the negative effects of charge recombination or problems with corrosion. These properties are supported by intensity modulated photocurrent/voltage spectroscopy (IMPS/IMVS) and incident photon-to-electron conversion efficiency (IPCE) measurements.